Today, there was a fire.

I was standing near my door, getting ready to get in my car and drive to an armful of hugs and a face full of kisses; searching my pockets, taking a mental inventory, and swearing that I had forgotten something.

And I smelled burning.

I knew immediately where it was coming from (the front door), but I still turned all the way around and walked into my kitchen (which is something I think everyone does when they smell burning).

Then I went outside, and the sky was lit up, like sunset. In the middle of the night.

In the center of the incandescent span of deep glow was a single round, red orb. A small hill in the distance, peaking above the flat horizon, silently engulfed in flame.

I yelled over my shoulder for my roommate, and she arrived.

We stared for probably twenty minutes.

Never before has something coming undone looked so beautiful.

On my 40th birthday I said halfway home, but I didn’t believe it.

There was a skittering in the skirting boards last night. Some small creature stuck and twisting, desperately scratching about, confined. A baby squirrel or a bat maybe, the latter because we have plenty of bats here and its vocalizations were high-pitched scared clicking noises, panicky sonar. Unless it was some dolphin, swum there in metaphor, but no.

We put duct tape across the slightest gaps and as I lay pretending sleep, the skittering continued, fainter, not in any way like Poe, but only sorry and sad. This morning all is quiet and I woke up thinking of dolphins and the excellent New Yorker cartoon that sees two of them floating across a simply drawn ocean and one, smiling, is saying to the other “I just want to swim with a middle-aged couple from Connecticut before I die.”

Me too.

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